It is quite frankly my pleasure to report that after this potentially horrific accident, all involved have come out the other side completely unscathed - all except one little fighter. The wreckage you see before you is of poor old 'Bertie' the Vario, of A-Line Coaches, the stalwart of Route 80 for the last 4 1/2 years.
I'm sure for many of the you the name Paul Burch of the PCTPG will ring a bell, and it was this man that had the misfortune to be driving R651 YCR just as a substantial tree gave way on Maker Lane yesterday evening, crushing the UVG body into a cripple. Quite frankly how Paul managed to escape with but a small cut to his hand from the shattering windscreen completely evades me, when you consider the area of the bus the tree actually hit. It surely must have been inches away from causing frightening consequences - thank god, somehow he managed to come out the other side laughing. And indeed also quite amazingly, joking about how thankful he was that Ex Plymouth Citybus Mercedes 709D N276 PDV had been taken off the service just hours before, and that she had been saved from the accident. To add, there were also thankfully no passengers travelling aboard R651 YCR at the time of the incident, largely thanks most likely to the fact that the last Cremyll Ferry had already departed, reducing demand for travelers to Cremyll just at the point that it mattered.
As is quite plain to see, R651 YCR will not be returning to the road, having sustained a lot of damage not only cosmetically, but also undoubtedly structurally as well. From the photo there appears to be a lot of damage to the nearside, and the platform, as well as the whole bonnet section, and the predominant split right down the middle of the roof/blind box area. I wish I could say it was a sad end for the bus, but despite the hundreds, if not thousands of miles I've done aboard her, I've never warmed to her. As has often been remarked, the somewhat boxy and ugly UVG bodywork did her no favors, along with being a constant source of problems for all involved at A-Line. She's seen a lot of change over her 4 short years in service though, but I can't say she's really truly earned her keep over the years. Still on wards and upwards, I have reports of a Mercedes 811D arriving at A-Line this weekend to take up R651 YCR's space in the depot.
My thoughts are with Paul after what must have been an incident that would shaken even the most hardy of drivers; very thankful indeed that he is still here to tell the story, where other incidents of a very similar nature have indeed resulted in dire consequences My thanks go to Derrick Cuff for the photo.